June 28, 2009

Rocking out at Musician's Institute

its late and I'm a bit tired from rocking out (or watching others rock out) all day, so i will try to make this quick, and please excuse any errors. There is no doubt that I've had a fantastic time at Musician's Institute this week. From the open jams to the guest artist concert, even the technique classes, it was all worthwhile. I basically want to run through a few cool things that have gone down here so that we don't get too far behind. Surprisingly, the first day of camp was the least hectic. The process of registering was a bit hectic, but when that was over we got to chillax and watch Dan "the man" Gilbert and a bunch of other MI teachers rock out in the concert hall. It was an excellent show and an appropriate way to start off the week. We transitioned smoothly to the first couple of classes and visited the registrar more than enough times in order to get schedules sorted out. The very next day I got to meet my band! I was a bit worried because all those changes may have put me in a band with people of unfortunate musical persuasion (bad taste. Metalheads.). Luckily, I ended making a connection with a couple of great characters, two friends from Barbados who were more into alternative rock and wanted to play something more on the complicated side. SCORE! We were joined by a seriously shredding Italian and slightly older dude from the LA area. When we began rehearsing Radiohead's Paranoid Android, the others seemed to immediately appreciate my style. This made me happy. The next few days got a bit more complicated. We began checking out the various seminars and jam sessions that were happening at the Institute. I was suddenly quite busy, ironically there was barely enough time left to find a practice room. At the end of the week, every group formed during the camp got a chance to perform in the professional grade concert hall. What excited me most about this was that (other than the fact that my group was killer) the advanced lighting and screens on both sides could make one feel like a true rockstar. I have a feeling that the crowd loved us as well. Can't wait to get the DVD of our performance to show the friends back home! Unfortunately, I must conclude this so that I may pack for my flight to Sacramento tomorrow, but email me or text me if you want to know any more of the rockin' details! PEACE.

June 19, 2009

You 'aint seen nuthin' yet....

I bet some of you out there are thinking that there is nothing left to say about Summer 2009. I bet you are figuring that all my exciting activities are over and there will be nothing going on for the next couple months save for band camp. WRONG! You 'aint seen nuthin' yet my friends. It just so happens that on this very day I will be departing from the small town of Meadville to travel across the world (actually just the country) to Los Angeles where I will be attending a 6-day drum school at Musician's Institute. "Summer Shot" is a condensed summer camp version of MI's full year graduate program in Drums, Bass, Guitar, Keyboard, or Vocals. The same five majors are available for study during summer shot. I will form a band with other instrumentalists attending the camp, and we will learn and rehearse a song throughout the week for the concert on Saturday (though I don't know quite as many people in LA as I do in PA, all my relatives will be invited to attend). There will also be open counseling sessions, private lessons, and other classes available throughout the week. Admittedly I am not entirely sure how it will all go down, but I'm hoping to get into a band that will play a good jazz or funk tune that will be more difficult than I am used to. And did I mention that this whole think takes place on Hollywood Blvd? Right on! There will be plenty of rocking/jazzing in the near future for me and I promise to keep everybody updated. Peace!

June 18, 2009


Needless to say, all of my band mates and I had a great time recording demos for our original songs. Our first studio venture wasn't in a real studio, that would be far too expensive and un-smalltown-like. So instead we recorded in my basement, a far more suitable atmosphere. Our main goal was to make recordings of the four originals we know well before I left for Musician's Institute in LA. Since I am still here, it is evident that we succeeded. But I believe that the success was more than just finishing four songs in just over a week. In a way, we discovered a bit more about our musical styles individually, and as a group. Since recording, not unlike live performance, is a musical skill that can only be mastered by repetition, our next session will undoubtedly be better than our last. I am sure of this because when we next record, the drums and bass will go down first followed by guitars and vocals. Don't forget about the piano, brass, strings, and extra percussion that will be added to enhance the sound. Eventually there will be a good EP that we can sell at our shows, and I really want to pull out all the stops. Nobody really knows what is gonna go down though, we just hope for the best. In the meantime go to our band myspace and listen in to what we have done so far. Feedback is always appreciated, and thanks a lot for the support

June 13, 2009

Parties (Team Us vs. Team Them)

What would the beginning of summer be without parties? Not quite the same of course. After the fantastic kick-off at a friends house (note the previous entry), it could really only get better. A few days later I had some friends over to celebrate my very-belated birthday. Due to unforeseen circumstances of outrageous busyness, it was impossible to have a party in the same month as my birthday. But that doesn't mean we are not gonna party!!! So I chose a random day and was all like "you guys should be here on this day" and actually a lot of people came! We started off by hanging out for a bit while put on some tunes and amused myself with the Xbox (its complicated). Once we got everyone mostly in the same place, mom busted out the game of Things. The game of Things is a pretty hella tight game in which a card is chosen with a "Thing" on it, and everybody writes their response down on a small strip of paper. Theses "Things" can range from "Things you shouldn't doodle on" to "Things to do in a blackout". Whatever the card, responses are hilarious and memorable. Of course we then had some food. And what would a party be without Ultimate Sport Disk? NOTHING! Because Ultimate Sport Disk is the bomb!!! One of the most fun parts of playing the game is getting to the field, in this case by cramming into the party bus for the short trip to Robertson. Once the second Ian arrived, we naturally split up into teams and started running around, ultimating it up, and having a great time. Initially, Team Us was doing very well against Team Them with our power players John, Ian, and Claire, and in fact everyone was doing quite excellently under the scheming direction of Coach Zanie. But, tragically, both teams lost some of their players and after some negotiation we were forced to give up the massively tall Ian to Team Them. Although the new Team Us was still an excellent group, Team Them won over in the second half despite valiant efforts by Kevin and Claire to score and inspired attempts by John and myself to overcome Ian's tallness. Finally, Team Us made an agreement with Team Them to unify into one team and get in the party bus to return home and play Rock Band. All of you should know that there are few wins more epic than playing Rock Band. I would say that the most significant sign of progress that day was how we moved out of playing the original Rock Band in to Rock Band 2. This brought a whole new realm of fun that occupied the remaining party goers much longer than I expected. But whatever, it was a wonderful time and quite a success.

June 7, 2009

First three days of summer

Wednesday was the last day of school. I had a band practice and went to my drum lesson. My drum teacher gave me a whole bunch of music for the percussion camp that I will be going to in Oberlin later in the summer. But there were a lot of mallet pieces that I cant practice at home. So I texted the band director and asked her if I could borrow the band's marimba for the summer. The next morning, we picked it up, wheeled it around the school, and somehow managed to fit it into our van. It was quite a feat of engineering. Of course I love nothing more than to add insturments to my collection, if only temporarily. It was not two days ago when a friend of my mother's lent me one of his mandolins, to my great amusement. But the Oberlin percussion institute is serious business and I must get to work. Then again, another band practice was necessary in order to prepare for the next day's gig. Lets talk about that for just a second. A nice freshman girl asked us to play at her annual end of school pool party, not particularly far from our house. Once we tracked down Jay (a trick we've been getting quite good at), the show started out pretty well. We got through a number of more mellow tunes, and then started the more exciting ones as I had planned. But we barely got through "Mary Jane's last dance" before a policeman showed up in the driveway asking us to turn down. It was our very first time having the cops called on us. And in the middle of the day, too! We couldn't help but be proud of ourselves. I even wanted to take a picture of us with the policeman for our scrapbook. We never actually did, but there was another opportunity when he showed up for the second time in the middle of "Dancing Shoes". Apparently this girl has some seriously sore neighbors. I took the opportunity to go to my next appointment, after having packed up and left the scene before it was to late. A friend's graduation party was the place to be, for sandwiches, cake, and hanging out with music teachers, at least for a little while. I might have stayed longer but there are always more plans to be made. I headed off to another end-of-summer party. Myself and a bunch of friends were toasting marshmallows, taking pictures, playing games, and making bad jokes all night long. At one particular point, the entire party wandered up the road to a nearby playground, then through the woods on a trail that happened to lead to my front yard. But there was absolutely no way of getting into the house, short of scaling the wall and climbing through the upstairs window, a method which has failed many times in the past. Unfortunately my crazy dance party would just have to wait. We walked up the road, down, around, and, after a few other prepositions, found our way back to the official party location. That was when the bad jokes and ridiculous games really begin. It is a given that we must run around in the dark, or in my case just fall in the dark. I honestly fell so many times it was out of control. There was sliding, hopping, tripping, jumping, half-flipping and a bit of face planting. It was amazing that I made it out alive, and it was 1 in the morning at that!